The 6 Best Spots for Kayaking In Austin Texas

Canoes and Kayaks
From peaceful urban waters to river rapids, kayaking in Austin Texas is one of the best ways to get away and unwind from your everyday hustle. Austin’s waterways have so much to offer that you’re bound to find something that suits your interests and skill level.
kayaking in Austin Texas
"Lake Austin and the city skyline this morning" by Lars Plougmann is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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With the Colorado River running right through the heart of Austin, there is no shortage of locations to go kayaking, tubing, paddleboarding, and even fishing. Launching kayaks in Austin TX is one of the greatest leisure activities you can experience.  Where else you can combine excitement whilst bonding with the beauty of nature?

Austin possesses a myriad of spring-fed rivers, soft flowing streams, and broad flat lakes. Whether you’re planning to kayak alone or with family and friends here’s our top 6 kayaking spots in Austin.  We’ve also added a few places for renting kayaks in Austin you could check out. Bring out your inner kayaker and head out to have some fun!

Lake Austin

Do you like avoiding crowds, spending a quiet soulful day to yourself? Then head down to the Colorado River just a few miles north west of Austin. Located very near to the city, Lake Austin stretches its way from Mansfield Dam to the north west all the way to Tom Miller Dam further south and east. Formed in the 1930s as a result of the Austin Dam construction, this lake has a lot in store.

Kayaking in Lake Austin Texas is a celebrated pastime, with kayak fishing in the area even more popular. For those who intend to fish, the lake is home to an excellent stock of largemouth bass, with catfish and sunfish also present. Keep in mind that the bulk of the shoreline around Lake Austin is privately owned. You can still, however, access the shore in a few spots including two public boat ramps.

lakes for kayaking near me
"Lake Austin at Commons Ford Ranch" by Joe Snowman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

With its quiet waters and only occasional motorboats, standup paddleboarding is another great option in Lake Austin. Don’t forget to stop by the Pennybacker Bridge for a picturesque sunset photo before you decide to wrap up your day.

If you’re looking for kayak rentals in Austin TX, a paddleboard, or maybe even a boat, you could do all that at ATX Peace Paddling located in Summer Edge Drive, Austin.  Check out their website to learn more about the rental prices and book in advance.

Kayak Lady Bird Lake

If you head back closer into Austin city you are in for a real paddlers treat! Lady Bird Lake in Austin, also known as the Town Lake, is a 400 plus acre man-made reservoir on the Colorado River. 

This lake is located right in the heart of Austin city and has gained popularity among local and visiting kayakers. Lady Bird Lake kayaks rental options are plentiful around the lake as are the many locations to launch your craft. 

If you’re looking for a tour, its hard to go past the Bat Watching Tour offered by Live Love Paddle. They’ll take you down to one of the worlds largest urban bat colonies located under the Congress Avenue Bridge.  

Kayaking in Austin’s Lady Bird Lake presents the paddler with a unique prospective of being on the water close to nature. At the same time take in the view of the magnificent city landscapes nearby.

kayaks lady bird lake
"File:Austin August 2019 19 (skyline and Lady Bird Lake).jpg" by Michael Barera is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

On weekends, Lady Bird Lake in Austin is dotted with kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes. Powered boats are not permitted on this lake which gives you added peace of mind that your experience won’t be ruined from annoying noise and wake. 

It’s permitted to Kayak on Lady Bird Lake all year long which is a terrific opportunity to see the city from a fresh viewpoint. The lake also has a pandoras box of other features such as cafés with a view of the water, a fishing pier, and walking trails.  Combine these other activities into your day paddling for a truly memorable experience.

Walter E. Long Lake

Also known as the Decker Lake! This 1,200-acre expansive reservoir is recognised for its outstanding paddling conditions. The lake can be found just a few miles east of Interstate 35 off Highway 290 near the Travis County Exposition Center. It provides ample room for riding, running, and even fun weekend picnics. The tranquility of the lake makes it the perfect place to kayak or canoe during hot summer days. 

Because of its easy access, many paddlers frequently come here after work for a quick paddle session. As it is a bit more isolated than Lady Bird Lake it’s not quite as crowded particularly during the week. At the weekend, however, it’s bustling with people kayaking and paddle-boarding with many finding this place to be an ideal getaway.  Walter E. Long Lake is surrounded by a metropolitan park, making it a great location for beach volleyball, barbecuing, biking and other activities.

Kayak Fishing

Aside from paddling, Walter E. Long Lake is a renowned kayak fishing spot. The lake is home to a variety of species including largemouth bass and hybrid striped bass. While there are no specific stores to rent a kayak. You may bring your own kayak or rent one from Austin Kayak. You could rent your kayak for 24 hours but as they do not provide transport service, you may have to plan that out yourself.

Access via car will cost $5 from Monday to Thursday and $10 from Friday to Sunday and tickets generally need to be booked in advance.  Kayaking conditions are best in the mornings before the wind picks up.

Red Bud Isle

A must-visit location is the Red Bud Isle! Kayaking on Red Bud Isle is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Streaming through the tranquil waters, you will not only be able to view the lovely, seemingly untouched beaches, but you will also be able to explore the pristine island.

Red Bud Isle is a beautiful 13-acre park near Austin that offers hiking, canoeing, and kayaking. Sitting at the top of Lady Bird Lake, this area sits at the foot of the Tom Miller Dam and has splendid views of towering cliffs. Do you love bringing your dog kayaking with you? Then this is the perfect location because the entire park is pet-friendly so your pooch can run around without a leash.

Red Bud Isle“Red Bud Isle” by kerinin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The water around the island is normally very easy flowing and is perfect for beginners. However, if you’re a beginner, you might want to steer clear of paddling near the dam wall.  The current is faster there and often flows in inconsistent patterns. 

There are a few places to rent kayak near Red Bud Isle. Providing a rounded tour, Rowing Dock located just north of the Roberta Crenshaw Bridge also rent kayaks and paddle-boards at their store. Check out their website to find out more!

San Marcos River

No kayaking trip to Austin is complete without a visit to the beautiful waters of the San Marco River.  It’s well worth the 30-minute drive to San Marcos, Texas. Your experience all begins at the City Park with slower, lazy river water well suited for novices. Should you want something more adventuresome, once you leave downtown it all begins with conditions suited more for experienced kayakers or professionals. The current kicks up a notch and you’ll encounter continuous Class I and Class II rapids.

One of the coolest experiences in Austin Texas is The Crystal Kayak Glow Tour.   This remarkable tour takes you down the magnificent San Marcos river at night using see-through kayaks with coloured underwater LED lights attached. The translucent kayaks act like a magnifying glass revealing the amazing aquatic world below, lit up by the LED lights with 7 choices of color.

The San Marcos River is a fantastic site for kayaking, with choices for everyone from beginners to expert paddlers. The river is placid and slow-moving, with several places to stop and explore. If you ever wanted to want to know “Are there any kayaking rivers near me?” – The answer is a definitive yes!

san marco river tubing
"Mid Float" by Sean Loyless is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Gaining in popularity as a water activity in the area is River Tubing.  San Marcos River Tubing is the closest spot to Austin that allows recreational tubing.

Texas State Tubes is located approximately 10 minutes east of San Marcos and 35 minutes south of Austin. It’s a great summer experience operating from March to September.  Unwind and let the hustle and bustle of life drift away or bring some friends for that super cool party experience.

Kayaking on the San Marcos River is a hobby enjoyed by many Central Texans. The charming beauty of this river stretches for 128 miles, running through lush, scenic hill country landscape, including hills, cliffs, and rocky outcrops. 

If you’re looking to rent kayaks, canoes, or paddle-boards check out Paddle with Style in Martindale. This is a great place to rent kayaks, canoes, and other gear as well as providing guided tours.

Inks Lake State Park

Brimming with crystal clear waters, this lake is a reservoir on the Colorado River with a no-wake zone perfect for paddle sports. Inks Lake is a recreational paradise, home to Inks Lake State Park, offering calm waters for kayaking. The 10-mile circle paddle course is a delightful float and will keep outdoor enthusiasts craving for more.

About a 1 hour 20 minute drive north west from Austin along the TX-29 W, Inks Lake State Park is an 800-acre quaint lake just off Buchanan Dam.   The lake is well known for fishing since it is teeming with catfish, sunfish, and bass. Reservations for the state park are required in advance of your visit.  Why not stay for a few days at one of Ink Lake State Park campsites.

"Inks Lake State Park" by runarut is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Inks Lake State Park is ideal for kayakers who are beginners, families, fishermen or canoeists searching for wildlife and natural scenery. During the summer, there are night paddling activities that may grab your interest.

Keep in mind that when the water level is low here fallen trees beneath the water’s surface could damage your vessel in some spots. 

Wave Chasers can assist you rent kayaks, water skis and boats on an hourly basis. Check out their website to contact them, find rates, or book in advance.

Kayak Rental in Austin

If you’re looking for kayak rental in Austin, you’re in luck. There are many great spots to hire a kayak, and you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of kayaking without having to worry about owning your own kayak. Here are a few good kayak rental options.

The Wrap

Austin has such a great range of locations for the kayak enthusiast! Canoe believe it?!

Whether you’re planning an adventurous kayaking vacation, a quick paddleboarding session, or a peaceful day of fishing, these Austin waterways are the ideal spot to quench your appetite for the best kayaking experience.

So, Paddles Up Folks!

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